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Viewing Blog: wordswimmer, Most Recent at Top
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Bruce Black searches for words and stories on Florida's west coast, only a few miles from the Gulf of Mexico.** A writer, editor of children's books, and writing instructor, his stories for children have appeared in Cricket and Cobblestone magazines.** You can contact him at wordswimmer@hotmail.com.
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1. One Writer’s Process: Gigi Amateau

Surrounded by deer, foxes, raccoons, and a host of other forest creatures who inhabit the woods near her house, Gigi Amateau lives on a tributary of the James River called Rattlesnake Creek and finds inspiration for many of her stories by looking out the window or taking a walk down to the river. “I cannot imagine living or writing without access to the river,” says Amateau, the author of

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2. A Dry Heart

Failure to sell your work, and the rejection that accompanies such failure, can eat away at your heart until there’s nothing left but a shell pumping blood but no longer pumping words. A dry heart. It can happen to you if you’re not careful or vigilant enough, if you’re not aware of the words dwindling or the sentences shrinking or the desire drying up. It’s a disease, this dry heart.

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3. One Writer’s Process: Julie Larios

Julie Larios suspects her love of writing may be oddly linked with a love of the paraphernalia of writing. “I have an inordinate love of pencils and pencil boxes, post-it-notes, old fountain pens, vellum, architectural paper, school notebooks, scotch tape, erasers, paper clips, ink, envelopes,” she says. “Maybe I became a writer because I loved stationary stores!” But, in a more serious

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4. On Outlining

So, okay, it’s not a secret. I dislike outlining. Did I say dislike? That's a bit of an understatement. Ever since I was a student in high school and one of my English teachers required that we create an outline as a way to write a paper, I’ve hated the idea and have resisted it ever since. I’ll do almost anything to avoid using an outline. What I prefer instead is to jump

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5. One Writer’s Process: Mary Ann Rodman

“I come from a family where family stories are told over and over,” says Mary Ann Rodman, who grew up in Washington, DC and lived in Chicago, Illinois before moving to Mississippi in the 1960s (the setting of her autobiographical novel, Yankee Girl), and who now lives in Georgia. “Instead of a bedtime story of say, Cinderella, I heard such stories as When Mom and Her Siblings Dug a Swimming

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6. Keep the Pen Moving

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7. Fishing (For Words)

There’s a lake about two miles away from our house, and, after sitting at my desk all day, I felt the need to stretch my legs. So, I put a notebook and a few pens into a shoulder bag and went for a ramble, as they say in the UK. At the lake a small dock, maybe 20’ x 15’, with two wooden benches and railing, overlooks the water. I had in mind to sit a while on one of the benches,

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8. One Writer’s Process: Jeannine Atkins

The woods in Sterling, Massachusetts, where Jeannine Atkins grew up, stimulated her curiosity in many ways. She wondered about the things that might be hidden under rocks, and years later such wondering led her to write Girls Who Look Under Rocks, a book about girls like Jane Goodall, Rachel Carson, and others who became naturalists as adults. Wandering near the woods gave her child’s

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9. When Autumn Comes

When autumn comes, nature begins to slow down, and my brain wants to go into a deep sleep. It’s the time of year when some of us come up against a wall and can’t see beyond it. Where does the wall come from? Why does it appear? How do we deal with it until it vanishes? Maybe we should just go into hibernation and wait for it to fall down on its own. Writing—or trying to write—on

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10. One Writer’s Process: Fran Manushkin

Before becoming a writer, Fran Manushkin had the idea that books came to life inside an author’s head fully made and that an author simply wrote them down “lickety split.” But then she started writing and discovered that notion simply wasn’t true. "Books develop according to their own time,” she says. “You cannot dictate that a book be born; neither can you dictate to a book. Listen.

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11. On Writing: John LeCarre

The other day I picked up John LeCarre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, his best-selling novel about spies and espionage during the Cold War, and started reading the introduction that he'd written in 1991 for the book, which first appeared in the United States in 1974. Two things struck me about what LeCarre had to say in retrospect about writing the book, the first in a trilogy. He had

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12. How’s the Water?

The heat in Florida is unrelenting at the this time of year, pressing down over everything like a steamy blanket and making the air so thick and humid that it feels like you’re trapped inside a never-ending steam bath. It’s not only the air that warms up but the water, too. Instead of water temperatures in the 60's or 70's, like off the mid-Atlantic coast at this time of year, the

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13. The Only Thing That Matters

I sent off another story yesterday. Now I’m wondering if I sent it to the right place. It’s how the self-doubt starts. In a few weeks, if I don’t receive a response, the question will shift in a subtle way. It will become something very different. It will turn into “Was it ready to send out?" And then “Did I need to do more work on it?” And all of a sudden, like a trap door dropping

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14. Ready. Set. Go!

Twenty minutes each morning—whether I’m ready to write or not, whether I’m sleepy or awake, whether my back aches or my fingers hurt—I write. Fast. Nonstop. For twenty minutes. It’s like digging fast. Just digging. Taking a shovel. Putting it into the earth. Lifting soil. Repeat. Again and again. Twenty minutes. Each day. There’s something about getting the hand in motion, about the

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15. Coming Up Empty-Handed

It took all day to write something that I didn’t even know I wanted to write. I sat at my desk for hours trying to think of something to write and at the end of the morning I left an unmarked sheet of paper on my desk, the same blank sheet that I'd started with when I sat down earlier. It was like diving and returning to the surface empty-handed. I hadn’t found any pearls on the sea

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16. Swimming in the Dark

For years I’ve held an image in my head of a plant growing toward the light as a way of understanding the writing process. It was an image that a beloved writing teacher shared with me years ago, and the image of my work growing toward the light--drawn to the light--helped me through some dark passages in my life as I tried to sort out which direction to follow in terms of what I wanted to

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17. Two steps forward, one step back

Sometimes writing can feel as if I’m making headway one day, only to find myself retreating the next. Two steps forward, one step back. It’s as if I’m swimming effortlessly through the water and then unexpectedly hit a strong current, and everything changes. My pace slows, my arms feel fatigued, my legs weaken, and I fear sinking to the bottom. And then, just as suddenly, the

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18. Follow Your Bliss

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19. Beacon of Light, 2014

Most likely you’ve near heard of the writer who I’ve selected as the Beacon of Light for 2014, but he has served as my inspiration this past year, illuminating the shoals of self-doubt and guiding me past the fears and uncertainties that often accompany the writing process. The writer’s name is Chuck Entwistle, a friend of mine from our days as grad students in the MFA program at Vermont

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20. Go, Write!

In the beginning, the page is blank--just blue lines and white spaces. It’s like looking into a mirror. The page serves as the release mechanism, the trigger, the catalyst for thought. But thought itself doesn’t take place on the page. You may look at the lines and the spaces between the lines, but what you see is the image in your head, the image that is not yet on the page. A

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21. The Write Stuff

There’s this belief among writers that hidden inside us is all the stuff we need to write. Maybe we're born with this stuff, or maybe we get it from our teachers or parents, or by reading the work of other writers, but we have it and only have to dig deep enough to find it. Of course, we still need to learn how to write. We still need to read lots of books and write lots of words. 

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22. Writing Happens Like This

Writing happens like this: You never know what will appear when you sit down to write. You only know you are a little scared that nothing will happen—no words, no ideas, no thoughts will come—and you'll be left staring at a blank page. So, you sit and wait for something that isn’t yet on the page. And when you find the courage to take that leap of faith and start writing, words do

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23. Empty Mind

"Make an empty space in any corner of your mind, and creativity will instantly fill it."--Dee Hock "Once you are empty then there is no barrier for the divine to enter in you." - Osho It may sound like a contradiction to try to empty your mind when you write. After all, if your mind is “empty,” how can you possibly find the words and images you need to set down on paper? But I’d like to

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24. Early Morning Reflections

Excerpts from a recent journal entry: Up early -- 5:45 am. Still groggy from sleep. Yesterday I started typing the historical fiction novel that I've spent the past month writing by hand. Just typing, no edits. Re-reading the story. That's all. As I write this morning, I ask what's the purpose of this journal keeping? Is it a record of what I do? A kind of superficial summary of my life--did

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25. Second-Guessing Yourself (or How Can You Really Trust Your Intuition?)

After thinking about a story for years and trying to write it for more years than I care to count, I had a break through a few months ago and managed to get the words of the story down on paper. Every afternoon I sat down to type out the next chapter, and the next, and received a gift, a miracle, of sorts, as page after page began to appear on the screen.  Over the course of a few months

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